The Holocaust, Our Responsibility to Remember

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Survivors of the Death Camps By Eileen Chepenik

It’s almost impossible to imagine the life that Joe Engel endured during the Holocaust. Today he is an upbeat, energetic, kind and generous gentleman, who loves his daily walks, his weekly luncheons with the rabbi, time with his loving family, and most of all, talking to “children of all ages” in schools and other groups about his experience. But underneath this loving exterior is the ever-present memory of a six-year nightmare that interrupted his otherwise normal, happy life and changed his world forever. Joe was 13 years old when on September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland and destroyed his home town of Zakroczym. The Nazis rounded up all the Jews in the town and brought them to the town square where they forced them to watch as they shot dead 150 young people. Joe and his family went to Warsaw, the nearest city, where, for six weeks, they squeezed into vacant buildings with hundreds of others and took turns sleeping because there was not enough room to lie down. From there they went to Plonsk and lived in the ghetto.

Joe received his identifying tattoo #84009 and tried to endure the cold, hunger, beatings, disease and unsanitary conditions prevalent in the camp. Eventually he was sent to brick-laying school. Joe remembers a time when he was “punished” at Auschwitz. “They undressed me naked, took me outside in the freezing cold, and poured ice water on me until I got stiff like a piece of ice. Then they revived me.” Joe recalls the bunks. “They were so crowded. You couldn’t twist or turn.”

Photo courtesy of Joe Engel

Joe Engel as a boy (left) with his brother, Pesach. He was just 14 years old when he was sent to Auschwitz

And the camp atmosphere. “There were piles and piles of Photo courtesy of Joe Engel skeletons. Nothing but bones. Joe Engel with his nephew, Charleston dentist, Michael Engel I used to check the pockets of After spending months in the ghetto, Engel was sent on dead inmates to see if there was a crumb of bread. If a transport to the Auschwitz Extermination Camp. He, their pants or shoes were better than mine, I took along with hundreds of others, was packed in a cattle car, them.” standing up for two and a half days with no food or water. During the Death March when the Germans At Auschwitz, the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele, the evacuated the camps towards the end of the war when “Angel of Death,” selected Joe and his brothers for work, they knew the allies were approaching, Joe escaped from but the boys watched as hundreds of others went to their a transport train to Czechoslovakia, joined up with the death in a fiery pit. This was before the “Final Solution” resistance and went on missions to explode German established gas chambers for mass murder. Jews were ammunition. thrown into large ditches, doused with gasoline and set He was liberated by the Red Army in March 1945 and afire with fire bombs. came to the United States in 1949.

Joe Engel lost approximately 150 relatives in the Holocaust. Today he has dedicated his life to talking to schools and all groups to tell people what he saw with his own eyes and to make sure the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten.

Editor’s Note: In honor of Joe Engel, Synagogue Emanu-El has established the Joe Engel Holocaust Education Fund. For more information, please contact Eileen Chepenik, 556-7304;, or Synagogue Emanu-El – 571-3264.



Liberation Memories Still Fresh for By Eileen Chepenik Mason “Mickey” Dorsey, originally from Chester, S.C., wanted to be an Air Force pilot, but since he was born with only one finger on his left hand, he was rejected. Likewise the Navy and the Marines. But the Army agreed to accept him for “limited service,” meaning he couldn’t be sent to combat. During infantry replacement training at Camp Blanding, Florida, he made 100% on all the physical endurance tests and shot the highest score of the battalion in the rifle training. They changed their minds and sent him to combat after all – specifically, to join the 71st Infantry Division of General George Patton’s 3rd Army in the Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, where he became the commander of an M8 armored car that carried four people. On May 4, 1945, Dorsey and his men shot up a large convoy of German trucks on the highway between Lambach and Wels, Austria. Shortly thereafter they crossed the highway and went down a dirt road, eventually reaching a large enclosure with a lot of people behind the fence staring at them. Dorsey was 18 years old at the time but the memories are etched in his soul and even now, at age 88, he recalls details with crisp clarity.

The place was Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, a subcamp of Matthausen Concentration Camp. Dorsey and his men were not prepared for what they saw. “The camp was a tremendous place. It was all wooded except for the huts where the people were housed. These were made out of slats and did not provide much shelter or warmth. “We got out of our jeep,” Dorsey recalls. “All the people came up to us. They were hugging Photo courtesty of Eileen Chepenik Mickey Dorsey wears his Purple Heart hat us and crying. Most of them were just skin and at home on Seabrook Island . bones. They looked ragged. We didn’t know who they were, what was going on or why they were there. We thought they were French, German, Italian, Russian. We didn’t know at the time that they were Jews. They were just hugging our feet and legs and crying.


“Tell them we’ve liberated a camp. Tell them to send food and doctors."


“I understood enough German to understand that they were saying they were hungry. All we had to eat were K rations, so we started giving them out. In each K ration can there were four cigarettes, a little packet of Tang, some Nescafe coffee and some cheese. The people were so hungry they would fight over the Continued on page 12

Photo courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Survivors cluster around U.S. Sergeant Frederick W. Peacock upon the arrival of American troops in the Gunskirchen concentration camp.

Photo courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Executed bodies piled on a cart



Photo courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

A letter from Mickey Dorsy to his parents. Gift of Mickey Dorsey. Special Collections, College of Charleston Continued from page 11

cans. They even ate the cigarettes. Some of them wandered out to the woods and were digging for roots near the trees. “The Lieutenant went inside one of the huts and saw dead bodies. He told me to get on the road and radio division headquarters. ‘Tell them we’ve liberated a camp. Tell them to send food and doctors.’ “A lot of the people died from eating the food we gave them. Afterwards we were told we shouldn’t have done that, but we didn’t know any better at the time. “My friend and I walked through the camp. There were bodies everywhere. Bodies on top of bodies. We thought they were all dead, but every now and then someone would raise a finger or open an eye. But there was little we could do. “The smell was so horrible it’s impossible to

describe. The smell of decaying flesh and feces. Later we were told there were 12,000 to 14,000 people in the camp. It was beyond our comprehension that anything like that existed. As I wrote home in a letter to my parents, ‘Had we seen these camps earlier, we would have killed a lot more Germans.”’ Dorsey and his unit stayed in the camp for four or five hours. After that they got a call to go and other units came in. Fifty years after the liberation Dorsey attended a reunion in Washington, D.C. Fourteen people he helped liberate from Gunskirchen were there. “I became good friends with some of them and have kept in touch.”

Note: Dorsey donated letters to his parents and other artifacts from his experience to the Jewish Heritage Collection Holocaust Archives at the College of Charleston. Dorsey has been awarded the Purple Heart, the French Legion of Honor, Israeli Medal and California Medal.

Photo courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Mickey Dorsey (right) with his buddy, Tom Cronkite



Memories of My father By Charlotte M. Tiencken Henry Edward "Tink" Tiencken was born on March 14, 1921 in Charleston, SC. He was a "dyed in the wool" Charlestonian, and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. He was raised by his single Mom (his father died of tuberculosis when he was 4) in a house on St. Philip Street. He graduated from The Citadel with honors in 1941. Because he was not yet 21 when he graduated, he had to wait a year before entering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant. Dad served in the 3rd Army, 282nd Engineer Combat Division, Company B before he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and then to Captain, when he was placed in command of Company A. In letters that he wrote to his mother, I have learned that he left New York on October 22, 1944, and spent 12 days on the Harold B. Alexander crossing the Atlantic. He landed in Swansea, England on November 2, and underwent further training in England until he and his unit were transported by Landing Ship Tank (LST) across the British Channel to Le Havre, France, on December 22, 1944. From there, he and his company traveled 200 miles across France on Christmas Eve, in a blacked-out convoy. He said in a letter to his mother, "That ride and the time we spent trying to sleep in the field when we finally stopped furnished me with the most miserable Christmas Eve I have ever had or expect to have. Le Havre impressed us greatly because it was the first completely demolished town we had ever seen. Since that time we have seen many." Dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge on the banks of the Sauer River, which forms part of the border between Luxembourg and Germany. He was right outside of the town of Echternach, Luxembourg, and helped to block roads and bridges to keep the Germans out of Luxembourg. Although he never told me this, I know from research that he was there. Afterwards, his company fought its way into and across Germany. He spent most of the rest of the war in and around Wurzburg in eastern Germany. It took a long time for my dad to be willing to talk about his war experiences, and it really wasn't until the end of his life that I finally got him to talk about those times. Among them, he told me about liberating prisoners from a concentration camp in Germany. (My research indicates that this was the Flossenburg


Photo courtesy of Charlotte M. Tiencken

When my Dad returned home to his beloved Charleston in 1947, he spent many months on his grandmother's porch, rocking in a Charleston rocker, trying to forget. He then went on with his life, meeting and marrying my mother, Faye Rogers Tiencken, raising a family, and owning a business in Charleston. He passed away on February 24, 1996, surrounded by his family. He and his best friends from the Citadel class of 1941, Eddie Lockwood, Henry Kennedy, Buster Brown, Buddy Bennett and many others, were heroes. They truly were "The Greatest Generation." In another letter to his mother, Dad quoted his best friend, Henry "Stump" Kennedy, "As Stump Photo courtesy of Charlotte M. Tiencken said, 'God has been Captain Henry Edward Tiencken good to all of us and I don't think he has run out of patience yet.' " I miss you, Dad. Thanks for being there for all of us.

Henry Edward Tienken

Concentration Camp that was liberated in April of 1945, three days after the Germans fled the camp, leaving the prisoners there to starve and die.) Dad told me of his anger and horror at what he saw, and of sending his company to the nearest town, forcing the German people there to come to the camp, witness the atrocities there, and bury the dead. In a letter he wrote to his mother in July of 1945, he talked about his "personal dislike and contempt of the Germans." He also told me a wonderful story (which I have recorded on video) of the Hungarian Navy surrendering to him! He was stationed on the Danube when a fleet of a variety of boats came down the river, filled with men, women and children. One of the men said they were looking for General Eisenhower so they could surrender to him, but when my Dad told them, "He's not here," they asked for the highest-ranking officer, which happened to be him. The men had their entire families, women and children, with them. Dad said that when they surrendered, his company took the men into custody and sent the women and children back home.

“God has been good to all of us and I don't think he has run out of patience yet." – Henry “Stump” Kennedy


Photo courtesy of Charlotte M. Tiencken

Captain Tiencken in a jeep, December 1944



By Cynthia Kahn Nirenblatt William “Bill” Hamilton has seen a great deal of humanity during his nearly 90 years. He’s seen the world from both sides of The Great Depression, watched as men landed on the moon and machines landed on Mars. He’s watched the world evolve from wireless radio transmission to wireless internet. But in all that time, he chooses to bear witness to a few hours on April 30, 1945. A member of the legendary 1944 The Citadel “Class That Never Was,” Hamilton entered the barracks of college in the fall of 1940. Unbeknownst to him and roughly 400 of his classmates, three years later they would nearly all be sent off to war by the US Army. In 1943, Hamilton and classmates left Charleston on a train to Columbia and began a year-long process of infantry training and officer candidate school. He remembered signing the papers much to the

Photo courtesy of USHMM

SS Officer Johann Eichelsdoerfer, the commandant of the Kaufering IV Concentration Camp, stands among the corpses of prisoners killed in his camp.

dismay of his mother who moved her sons to Charleston from Syracuse, NY in 1933. “I didn’t raise two boys to be cannon fodder,” Hamilton recalled her saying. “I left The Citadel as a private and went into basic training where it was discovered I had a hernia,” he said. His fellow classmates went on to Officer Candidate School (OCS) without him. Following surgery, he was eventually able to continue on with OCS. It was after the Battle of the Bulge, he received his orders and Hamilton boarded a troop ship with 3,000 other officers and soldiers to Europe. In February of 1945, he landed at the northern port city of Le Havre, France. Most of the fighting had

ended at this point in 1945, but there were still battles to be fought and Hamilton prepared for what lay ahead. The troops traveled in boxcars called 40 and eights. “They could either hold 8 horses or 40 men. We rode for day and night and there was plenty of straw, Hamilton recalls. “I still didn’t know I was going to be part of the 36th infantry. When I got off the train at Kaiserslautern, that’s when I was assigned to Company E, 142 regiment in the second battalion. “When I joined the 36th they were not in combat at the time. It was pretty well depleted. There were only two officers and 40 men. Another Second Lt. and I joined Company E and about a week later, two truckloads of basic training infantry men joined us,” he said. Everything happened quickly. The 36th infantry was reassigned to the Seventh Army on March 29. By April 22, the division was crossing the Danube River and the 101st Airborne Division came through at the same time. “It was just a mass of different outfits.” Eight days later, on April 30, 1945, roughly 630 miles east of where he landed in France, Hamilton and members of the 36th infantry division came upon the Kaufering subcamps of Dachau prison system. “The fence was already down and (the prisoners) were just roaming around. The guards had taken off,” he remembered. “I don’t know if they got into civilian clothes, but I was told they just headed into the woods. “I remember Dachau very much,” Hamilton recalled sadly. “It was perhaps the worst day of my life. “I thought they were wearing pajamas at first,” he said thinking of the prisoner’s baggy clothes. “They were black-and-white striped uniforms. They took the clothing off of the dead people and pinned them in stars over their hearts so we knew they were Jews. “They were emaciated. They had pitiful eyes and they walked around like zombies. Their eyes were sunken into their skulls and their eyes were just glazed. I don’t think one of them weighed over 100 pounds. I don’t think they realized they were being freed. “I had never seen human beings tortured like that,” he said. The 36th division was only at the concentration camp for a few hours, but it was enough to leave a lasting mark in Hamilton’s memory. “We were told not to feed them,” he remembered of his orders. “Anything, especially chocolate. If they ate chocolate, they could possibly die.” And there were the diseases, too. Typhus and dysentery kept the liberators away from the newly freed prisoners. Then Hamilton saw the furnaces. “I knew what it was. There were six huge furnaces. There were six huge crematorium furnaces….and under the furnaces were six feet of ashes; human remains. “It was very hard. I still think how can human beings destroy another human being for no reason except that they were Jewish?”

Photo courtesy of William Hamilton

Hamilton in uniform

When asked about the Germans around Dachau, Hamilton responded they were different than the Nazis. He believed the Germans were afraid of Hitler and they did what they had to do to protect their families. The Nazis were the ones that knew what they were doing and why. “But, I think the civilians did know,” he added. “They said they were scared to speak out. But I know they knew. They brought (the Jews) in on trains at night. The fear was Hitler, there was no doubt about it.” How could they not know? The stench hung in the air. “It was the smell of burned human flesh,” he recalled. “It was horrible.” According to the United States Holocaust Museum website, the 36th infantry has been recognized by the United States Holocaust Museum and the Center of Military History as liberating units and for their “heroism, gallantry, and help in liberating prisoners from brutal Nazi rule.” Every year during the Days of Remembrance ceremony, the names and flags of each of the liberating units is presented in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. When told of his infantry division’s recognition at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, Hamilton was unaware of the honor, but was glad to hear of it. Reflecting on what it means to be a Dachau liberator, Hamilton said, “I don’t know why we don’t have more brotherly love. You would think the world would finally realize that war is not the thing to bring peace.” Hamilton believes his long life should be a lesson in the values of love and peace. He wants his work to be remembered and to serve a purpose. “Let there be peace with this world,” he said, “and let it begin with me.”



For further study The Selden K. Smith Foundation for Holocaust Education

Named in honor of the long-time chair of the SC Council on the Holocaust and a retired history professor from Columbia College, this foundation can provide funds to schools, colleges, churches, synagogues, civic groups and individuals for grants, classroom supplies, student field trips, teacher training and workshops, Holocaust speakers, exhibits and other related educational programs. Donations can be made via the website,, or can be mailed to The Selden K. Smith Foundation for Holocaust Education, C/O Minda Miller, Chair, P O Box 25740,Columbia, S 29224.

The Joe Engel Holocaust Education Fund at Synagogue Emanu-El

Synagogue Emanu-El established the Joe Engel Holocaust Education Fund to subsidize Holocaust educational opportunities such as trips to Holocaust museums in the United States and around the world and participation in programs such as the March of the Living and other trips to Holocaust sites in Eastern Europe. Funds are available for teenage children whose parent(s) are members of Synagogue Emanu-El. Donations to the Fund are accepted at Synagogue Emanu-El, 5 Windsor Drive, Charleston, SC 29407. For more information, please call the synagogue, 571-3264.

Atrium at Jewish Community Center Honoring One and a Half Million Children Who Perished A memorial garden to the children who perished in the Holocaust will soon be established at Charleston’s Jewish Community Center on Wallenberg Blvd. in West Ashley. Designed by Charleston landscape architect Sheila Wertimer, the garden will be meditative, serene and calming, and will feature a sculpture by North Carolina artist Tioty Werrell. For more information or to donate, call the JCC at 571-6565.

The REMEMBER Program for Holocaust and Genocide Education

The REMEMBER Program remembers and honors victims of the Holocaust, particularly local survivors of the Holocaust as well as liberators of the concentration camps that reside in Charleston. It offers many programs and speakers to area students and adults that inform the community about the Holocaust, genocide, and social injustice. For information contact Tamar Sternfeld at Charleston Jewish Federation, 5716565, or visit the Program’s website,

South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Video and Curriculum Guide Available for Teachers

Public and private middle and high schools in the tri-county area have a copy of “Seared Souls: Voices from the Past,” a video produced by the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust and SCETV, and “South Carolina Voices, a teaching and Curriculum Guide.” Please check with your school’s Social Studies Curriculum Chair. This information is also on the website of the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust,

South Carolina Council on the Holocaust - “For Every Person There is a Name” Holocaust Education Institute for Teachers - This documentary film was produced by Virginia Friedman and “Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust” John Reynolds in cooperation with the College of Charleston’s An intensive summer institute for South Carolina teachers, sponsored by the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust and taught by Dr. Mary Johnson, Dr. Tandy McConnell, and Dr. Chris Burkett, will be held July 14-19 at Columbia College (COURSE # EDU 724 - 3 hours of graduate credit). Registration fee is $125. Room and board are provided by the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust. For more information contact Barbara Parker (803)786-3763, or visit the Council’s website at to download an application.

Office of Media & Technology and the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies program. It traces the lives of three Holocaust survivors who made their homes in South Carolina - Pincus Kolender, Joe Engel, and Dientje Krant Kalisky-Adkins. It has been distributed to every middle and high school in South Carolina and is available at the Charleston County Library.

Columbia Holocaust Education Commission

Visit the Commission’s website,, for information about programs, educational materials, and grants.

South Carolina Council on the Holocaust – Mini-Grant Program for Holocaust Education American Red Cross Holocaust and Funding is available for Holocaust education projects. Teachers War Victims Tracing Service are encouraged to apply. Subsidies may also be granted for teachers to participate in approved Holocaust education trips to Eastern Europe. Teachers must be accepted in the programs before applying. Project goals must coincide with the objectives of the Holocaust Council. For requirements or to download an application, visit the Council’s website at

South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Teachers’ Advisory Committee

This group of teachers from around the state has developed a PowerPoint presentation and script that is available to teachers and holds educational conferences to assist with teaching the Holocaust. Day-long educational workshops are held in the fall and spring. For more information contact Emily Taylor,, or visit the Council’s website,

Holocaust Research Section at Charleston County Library features Zucker Holocaust Collection, Shoah Foundation Survivor Videotapes

The Jerry and Anita Zucker Holocaust Memorial Collection at the Charleston County Library is home to some 400 books for citizens, students, and educators to do further research about the Holocaust. Also included are 55 video documentaries, and 28 videotaped survivor testimonies from the Visual History of the Shoah Foundation, available for checkout for individual or classroom use. The Charleston County Main Library is located at 68 Calhoun St. For questions, please call 805-6930.

Holocaust Archives, Special Collections, College of Charleston Library

This collection contains hundreds of documents, photographs and artifacts belonging to Holocaust survivors and liberators now living in South Carolina. Contact Dale Rosengarten, Curator, Jewish Heritage Collection, 953-8028, or

Holocaust Archives Website and Quilt Link

This project of the Holocaust Archives Project at the College of Charleston links the college’s Holocaust Archives and other resource collections on the subject. The basis of the site is a 79by 94-inch quilt that hangs in the Charleston County Library, Main Branch, on Calhoun Street.

A clearinghouse for persons looking for loved ones still missing as a result of the Holocaust or other aspects of war, Jews or nonJews. Has a network in 177 countries throughout the world. For more information, call 764-2323.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Yad Vashem: the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Facing History and Ourselves Echoes and Reflections Multimedia Holocaust Education Kit Anti-Defamation League Teaching Tolerance, and “One Survivor Remembers,” programs of the Southern Poverty Law Center Simon Wiesenthal Center USC Shoah Foundation Institute American Jewish Committee Media Literacy Clearinghouse American Red Cross Charleston Jewish Federation The REMEMBER Program Columbia Holocaust Education Commission



STEP TWO: Increased Violence – Rights Taken Away On April 1, 1933, the Nazis carried out a boycott of Jewish businesses. Storm troopers blocked entry to them. The Star of David (symbol of Judaism) and anti-Jewish slogans were painted across thousands of doors and windows. There were many violent attacks against Jews and the police were instructed not to interfere.

The Nuremberg Laws were enacted in 1935. They defined who was a Jew. Jews were stripped of their citizenship and rights. Their businesses and property were taken away from them. They lost their jobs and their children were not allowed to attend school. They had to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing to identify them as Jews. Hundreds of other laws also restricted Jews from participating in German society. Jews could not sit on park benches or swim in public pools or walk on the sidewalks. Jewish apartments had to be marked. Jewish physicians could not treat non-Jews. Jews had to take new middle names. All Jewish men were to be called Israel; all Jewish women, Sara. Suggested activity: Compare the Nuremberg Laws with the Jim Crow segregation laws in the United States (from the 1880s into the 1960s).

Photo courtesy of USHMM

Three Jewish businessmen are paraded down Bruehl Strasse in central Leipzig, carrying signs that read: "Don't buy from Jews; Shop at German stores!"

STEP THREE: Forced Emigration Because of these restrictions and violence, some Jews left Germany, going to other European countries. But as Hitler spread his evil wings through more of Europe, they too were murdered in concentration and death camps. Many are familiar with the story of Anne Frank. Her family left Germany and moved to Holland. When the Nazis came, they went into hiding but were discovered and sent to concentration camps where all but her father, Otto Frank, died. Most Jews, however, chose to stay in Germany thinking the bad times would pass. They were proud Germans and had become secular and assimilated. More than 100,000 (one in every six Jews in the population) had served in the army during World War I. They paid taxes, obeyed the laws, and looked forward to their future in Germany. In addition, immigration policies around the world were very strict. The waiting list to emigrate to the United States, for example, was four or five years long. The British government accepted Jewish German children, but not their parents, in what was known as the Kindertransports. Many of these children were placed into Christian homes and were raised to be Christians. Delegates from 32 countries met at Evian, France in the summer of 1938 to try to find a solution, but no country was willing to take the Jewish refugees. Only the Dominican Republic offered to take 100,000, but very few went. Other Jews attempted to flee Germany once the war began, but with little success. To make it to safety, one needed identification papers, food, money and visas to enter each country that was on the way to a ship’s port. The Jews were trapped in Europe.

STEP FOUR: Deportation The Nazis also resorted to outright deportation to get rid of the Jews. On one October night in 1938, 18,000 European Jews were rounded up by Storm Troopers and deposited on the German-Polish border. One of them was a Polish Jew named Zindel Grynszpan. His son, Hirsch, who lived in Paris, was so distraught when he heard the news that he went to the German Embassy and shot a German official, killing him. The Nazis retaliated Photo courtesy of USHMM with Kristallnacht. View of the destroyed interior of the Hechingen synagogue the day after Kristallnacht On November 9, 1938, Germans and Austrians attacked Jews in their homes and burned synagogues throughout Germany in a pogrom Jewish authors were burned. Many Jews were (violent attack) that lasted for two days. More arrested and sent to concentration camps. than 1,000 synagogues were burned, more than Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass, was so 7,000 stores destroyed, 96 Jews were killed and named because of the shattered glass from the Jewish homes, cemeteries, hospitals and destruction of Jewish storefronts. schools destroyed. Thousands of books by



World War II Begins World War II began on Sept. 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Having already acquired Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Nazis soon took Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and France. In each country, the Nazis issued identification cards based on people’s religion. The cards of Jews were marked with a “J.” Jews were forced to wear a Yellow Star of David to make them easily identifiable.

STEP FIVE: Isolation Ghettos

Jews were rounded up, sent to larger cities, and crowded into special Jewish sections called ghettos, isolated and segregated from the rest of the world. Hundreds of thousands were cramped into small areas enclosed with barbed wire and brick walls with sharp pieces of glass to keep people from climbing out. There was no medicine or sanitary facilities and food was scarce. People were deliberately starved and many died of hunger and disease. The Jews were also forced to perform slave labor for the German government. Despite the cruel conditions, many Jews secretly conducted schools, held concerts and published underground newspapers. While the initial purpose of the ghettos was to isolate the Jews from the rest of the population and starve them to death, they were merely a holding place, until Jews could be taken to death camps to carry out the “Final Solution.”

Concentration Camps

Simultaneously, Jews were also imprisoned in concentration, or internment, camps. More than 42,500 such camps were in operation throughout Germanoccupied Europe. Jews from all over occupied Europe were rounded up and sent to them. Prisoners were worked to death as slave laborers under brutal conditions, 11 hours a day, often in freezing weather and with little clothing. Hunger and disease were rampant. They were beaten, tortured and used in cruel medical experiments, and were completely cut off from the rest of the world, even though many of these camps were located very near the surrounding towns and Jews were marched as slave laborers to work sites in clear view. Thousands upon thousands died in these camps.

STEP SIX: The Final Solution-Genocide Becomes State Policy Einsatzgruppen Mass killings of Europe’s Jews began after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. They were carried out by special action squads called Einsatzgruppen. Members of the Einsatzgruppen, some 3,000 strong, were mostly well-educated professional men whose skills contributed to the neat organization of the process. As soon as the Nazis arrived in a community they rounded up the Jews, marched them to the outskirts of the cities, and shot them into mass graves ready for burial. This included women and children. Communists, Gypsies, the insane and the intelligentsia

The Wannsee Conference On Jan. 20, 1942, in a posh villa outside of Berlin, the Nazis approved “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,” the policy of annihilation of every Jew in Europe. Six death camps were established with gas chambers for mass murder. All of them were in Poland, easily reachable by direct rail lines from any point in occupied Europe. The mass murder of Jews in these gas chambers continued until mid-1945.

The names of the death camps or “killing centers” and the number killed in each are: Auschwitz-Birkenau Sobibor Treblinka Chelmo Majdanek Belzec

2,000,000 250,000 750,000 300,000 360,000 600,000

were also targeted, but the orders called for “total extermination” of the Jewish people. All told, 1.2 million to 1.4 million Jews were killed by these mobile killing squads. The most notorious Einsatzgruppen executions occurred in Babi Yar, where 33,000 Jews were killed on Sept. 29-30, 1941. Photo courtesy of USHMM

German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of an Einsatzgruppe prepares to shoot a Ukrainian Jew kneeling on the edge of a mass grave filled with corpses.

Death Marches In late 1944 the Allied armies crossed into Germany and the Soviet forces liberated sections of eastern Poland. The Germans Photo courtesy of USHMM began destroying the death Prisoners head south on a death march from the Dachau concentration camp. camps and the SS forcefully Gruenwald, Germany, April 29, 1945. marched the surviving prisoners into Germany where they remained in concentration camps until they were freed by the Allies. With the harsh winter weather and few provisions, thousands more died, so many, in fact, that these last brutal acts became known as “Death Marches.” Photo courtesy of USHMM

Main entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. Poland.



STEP SEVEN: Liberation

The Allied soldiers began liberating the concentration camps in Germany in April 1945. They discovered thousands of emaciated, dying people and stacks of dead bodies. They forced the German citizens in the surrounding communities to come into the camps and bury the dead. On April 12, 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Omar Bradley and George Patton, visited Ohrdruf, a Nazi slave labor camp in Germany. In a letter to Chief of Staff George Marshall, Eisenhower wrote: I have never felt able to describe my emotional reaction when I first came face-to-face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency...The things I saw beggar description...The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality...were... overpowering...I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.

STEP EIGHT: The Aftermath Building New Lives Liberation was just the first step on a long and difficult road to recovery for survivors of the Holocaust. Tens of thousands died of malnutrition and disease in the weeks following liberation. For others, the lives they had known before the Holocaust were gone. Nothing remained for them in their hometowns and they were not welcome there. Many who did return were killed in pogroms perpetrated by their onetime neighbors. Over 5,000 Jewish communities throughout Europe were destroyed by the Nazi regime. A way of life, an entire culture rich in traditions had vanished. There was now no place for the Holocaust survivors to go.

Eisenhower ordered all American units in the area to visit the camp and encouraged members of the American press to bear witness. One reporter, who at first thought the reports from the camps were exaggerations and propaganda, reported instead that they were understatements.

Nazi War Crimes Trials

Displaced Persons Camps Approximately 500,000 survivors lived in displaced persons (DP) camps where Jewish relief agencies provided job training and social services. Many were the only members of their families to survive. In these camps the Jewish refugees began to rebuild their lives, marry, and have children, until immigration restrictions were lifted and they could emigrate to the United States or Palestine. In 1947, the United Nations voted to provide a place for the Jewish people to live. The ancient Jewish homeland, Palestine, was divided into a Jewish state and an Arab state. In 1948, the Jewish state became the State of Israel.

Photo courtesy of USHMM

Jewish men working in a sewing workshop in the Bindermichl DP camp.

Hitler shot himself on April 30, 1945. The others responsible for the beastly acts were held accountable and punished for their crimes at trials held in Nuremberg, Germany, by an international tribunal with judges Photo courtesy of USHMM from the Allied Forces. Defendants in the International Military Tribunal war crimes trial in Nuremberg Twenty-two highsit in the prisoners' dock in front of a row of American military police. ranking Nazi criminals were charged with conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Though most of them claimed they were just following orders, the Tribunal rejected this defense. Individuals, it said, are responsible for their actions in times of war as well as in times of peace. Twelve were sentenced to death; three to life in prison, and four for lesser prison terms. Three were acquitted. Trials were also held throughout Germany for lower-level perpetrators, including concentration camp guards and commandants, police officers, members of the einsatzgruppen, and doctors who participated in experiments. Many perpetrators, however, were never brought to trial. Suggested activity: Write an essay describing what it means to you to be responsible for your actions. Cite some examples in your daily life when you chose certain actions over others. Why?

STEP NINE: The Legacy of the Holocaust As a result of the Holocaust, nations of the world took steps to identify standards of behavior for all of civilization. The United Nations adopted a Convention for the Prevention of Crimes of Genocide and on December 10, 1948 the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights containing thirty Articles outlining a code of respect for people of all nations. New medical ethics were drafted. In 1949 the Geneva Convention outlined the rights of prisoners of war. Today, education, activism,

and remembrance by the world community strive to ensure the Holocaust is remembered and its lessons learned so such a tragedy never happens again. Suggested activity: Read a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (download at: Do you think all countries of the world abide by the Articles in this declaration? Cite examples that come to mind. What Articles are most meaningful to you? Why?



Many Holocaust survivors, relatives and friends of survivors, and liberators of the concentration and death camps live in Charleston and are willing to share their experiences and feelings with us. The following pages contain their stories.

The Hidden Children Sometimes, when possible, families made arrangements to “hide” their children with willing non-Jews for the duration of the war. This was not easy, and children were often kept in cellars or attics, or, as in the case of Dientje Krant Adkins below, a closet, where they had to keep quiet for hours on end. Families who hid children risked their lives and many were honored as “Righteous Gentiles” by the State of Israel. Many hidden children developed close bonds with their temporary families, but not all experiences were pleasant ones.

I walk into the meeting room at The Palms of Mt Pleasant to hear Dientje K. Adkins – Diny - talk about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, a hidden child, and I’m taken aback. By now I should know what to expect. I have seen this many times before; still Diny never ceases to give me an entertaining jolt. From 50 feet away, Diny looks like a petite, albeit aging, rock star. She is wearing a red mini skirt, red high heel booties and an oversized Black Eyed Peas “One Race – Human” T-shirt. Her eye shadow is an electric blue, her hair the color of blood oranges, and she sports giant peace sign earrings, multiple piercings, a POW MIA flag pin, and an American flag pin. Diny stands out in a crowd. She welcomes everyone, explaining that first we will see the film, For Every Person There Is A Name, about three Holocaust survivors living in Charleston at the time of filming – Joe Engel, the late Pincus Kolender and Diny herself. People move their Photo courtesy of Virginia Tormey Friedman chairs in order to see the screen Dientje K Adkins (Diny) and Jade McDuffie, better. I don’t. I directed the film, at The Palms of Mt. Pleasant (2012) and it’s still hard for me to watch it. After the film, Diny adds to her story some information that she and her late husband Roscoe Adkins, a Vietnam veteran, discovered on their research trips to the Netherlands. She and Roscoe, neither one a historian, painfully researched and reconstructed her full history and created a script she is using today. Normally a very animated person, Diny talks from this script in a very undemonstrative manner and I realize that this bit of emotional distance is necessary. The experiences of which she speaks are horrifying, and recounting this trauma can be emotionally exhausting for her. I’m there for moral support, to be her witness as she recounts her story, on this day, in this place. It’s a very small thing I do, but it’s not easy for me, so I decide to move around the room and take photographs to show her later. Diny tells the crowd that she was born on May 20, 1938 in Bussum, Holland. “On September 1, 1939,” she tells us, “Germany invaded Poland and World War II began.” She shows us her life in Holland immediately before the war using family photos; one photo with her best girlfriend, Edith, and another with her doll, Anneke Pop (pop means doll in Dutch). The doll was the only thing that Diny was able to keep when she went into hiding. People lean forward to glimpse these black-and-white photos that are heartbreaking in their normalcy. I position myself in the back, giving wide berth to the news videographer who came from a local TV station to capture Diny’s talk. He looks young – probably just a few years out from high school, and that makes me wonder what he

by Virginia Tormey Friedman, learned in school about the Holocaust.

a writer and filmmaker living in Charleston

There is no national curriculum for teaching the Holocaust, though five states have enacted laws requiring it be taught. While all 50 states require that high school students take U.S. history in order to graduate, a 2004 study published by The Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education revealed that only 24 state standards explicitly named the Holocaust as a required subject matter. How is that possible? How is it possible to cover U.S. involvement in World War II without talking about how American soldiers liberated Buchenwald, Dachau, Photo courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston and Mauthausen? Dientje and her doll Anneke Pop Diny is now holding up a photo of her third hiding place with an elderly Indonesian couple. In it she is 4 years old and playing on the grass with an old woman she called Maatje. She remembers the couple as being very kind, but unable to care for her so they gave her to a nun who hid her in a closet. She calmly describes the beatings she received at the hands of this nun and how her only friend was Anneke Pop. Diny was sometimes given to the nun’s brother who lived in the town of Amersfoort near the concentration camp, a cruel man who physically and sexually abused her. “That doll was everything to me,” she says, and I hear a faint collective sigh. The audience is absolutely still as she describes in detail the physical and emotional abuse she endured as a little girl. She lived in nine places including two camps during the war. Diny’s trauma didn’t end in 1945 when the Netherlands was liberated by Canadian, British and American forces and she was reunited with her parents. How could it? She had been given another name, another religion and identity, and she hardly knew her own parents anymore. She freely divulges the psychological reverberations her Holocaust experience caused. Without flinching she talks about needing the psychotherapy provided her by the state, and how grateful she is for it. She concludes her personal testimony by answering the unspoken question hanging in the room. How can she remember since she was such a small child at the time? She says simply. “I do remember. On my body and in my heart are scars that don’t go away.” The shared mood of the room is downhearted, but Diny brightens for a moment and shares a funny story about her children when they were young, demonstrating that she is not bitter. Clearly, she is happiest when she can relive those precious family times. She smiles widely and then she is off again, now talking about more recent incidences of genocide and human rights crises in the world. Her message today is tolerance not hate. Her message is tolerance when she talks to schoolchildren all over the state about the Holocaust. Her message is always tolerance. It’s what she chooses for herself. It’s what she gives to us all. Diny closes with a blanket offer to help anyone needing help. This gesture is as extravagant as she is and as authentic. I smile knowing I just received a gift, and because Diny can still rock a mini skirt.

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